Egg rationing?

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by Tartan_Terrier, Oct 19, 2006.

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  1. Obviously, during the war there was a shortage of many things, either due to the German U-boat blockade, or because these things were previously imported from countries which had been occupied.

    I've often wondered about the egg shortage though. Why was there suddenly only enough for one egg per man per week?

    Did all the chickens stop laying?

    Were all the chickens slaugtered as part of a premature 'scorched-earth' policy?

    Or did we really import so many eggs before the war?

    Alternatively, is there something in eggs that can be processed into something more warlike, and as such all the eggs were being used for this purpose rather than being eaten?
  2. There was egg rationing in the '80s as well. We used to be able to have as many as you wanted, but as soon an FTX got called and the cookhouse was invaded by 'pads', it was "Oi, one egg c*nt" from the ACC Nazi behind the hotplate.

    Kids nowadays, they just wouldn't believe ya.
  3. I've always understood it was more a limitation of the far more extensive production systems that we had back then, and a knock on effect from the other rationed protein supplies. (ie. there wasnt a huge amount of meat, so people were inclined to eat eggs for the protein part of their meals instead)

    in the countryside, there was no shortage of eggs - people kept chickens and got their eggs that way, pre war they got sold on, however people were more likley to keep them for themselves (or barter for other products) due to the rationing of other products, and as such the "open market" supply of eggs dwindled astonishingly - hence rationing.
  4. I think you have a point there.

    I suppose the egg ration was national eggproduction shared amongst the population. This probably meant that a lot of people whoi didn't eat aggs did so as part of their ration. The population was better fed under ratioining.

    However, many eggs madse their contribution to the war effort as the preserved food called "Powdered egg" Still made by Americans

    A little research on the Internet and we find a BBC experiment about livcing on rations..

    In peacetime eggs are fresh, wholesome and consumed efficiently. But in wartime its not good enough. Anglo Saxons need Food that is processed and disgustung if they are going to fight a war. Its not the Blitz Spirit - its the after tasste of powedered egg. ;)
  5. All the feed grains were in short supply, because everything got moved a couple of steps up the food chain as domestic wheat and corn had to be stockpiled for human consumption, to take the place of the stuff being lost to U-boats. I seem to recall reading somwhere that numbers of battery chickens were strictly controlled to well below peacetime levels, to reduce the grain demand.

    My father was part of the "egg mafia" as a kid in wartime - the eggs were very much part of the black economy currency. Like most of that generation, he almost never ate chicken - it was more unusual and scarcer than the traditional sunday roast (peacetime chicken consumption has increased by mega percentage since the war). For meat, my father kept rabbits, and the family children spent much of their time gathering forage for them. Rabbit meat was very much more commonly available in the shops than other types.

    indicates that total UK egg and egg products production in 1944 was actually 97% of pre war production (though this would include powdered egg products) - overall production was not down anything like as much as other food supplies, indicating supply constraints were the biggest challenge.

    Interestingly the british diet on rationing was amazingly healthy overall - lots of vegetables, less red meat, low in fat and sugar - exactly what we are trying to encourage people to do nowadays.
  7. Eggs as currency. My father had a lot of Jewish customers and their diet includes eggs in quantity (or did then). He used to swap eggs for all sorts of merchandise. My first tailored suit was paid for in eggs.
    There was a big thing about preserving eggs. Bottled in isinglass they stayed fresh so when there was a glut of eggs, people bottled them.
    Rabbits. Highly attractive. I had a shotgun when I was 9 or 10 and the bag was enormous at good prices.
    Best thing was the pig club. Pig owners were allowed to kill one pig a year for their own consumption. 12 or so would get together in a syndicate and kill one a month so there was plenty for all.
    Black economy. My father had been an adult in WWI and insisted that having access to food was essential. He went out some 3 days after the WWII started and bought a farm which was tenanted. The crop went all over the place at dead of night. He took anything as a swap. What was not used by us and relatives/neighbours was swapped in turn.
    I'm all trained up ready for the revolution.
  8. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    The thing with powdered eggs is they have to be made at some point from eggs, I know not just eggs but they form a means of preserving egg for the population so that the protein levels can be maintained. I actually really liked the scrambled egg in the cookhouse back in the 80s and it was freely dispensed. Unlike fried or poached you could cover a plate of fried bread with it and top off with baked beans.
    A great way to start the day and soak up the Dortmunder!
  9. My Grandparents, fathers side, kept chicken for eggs in their back garden up to mid 60s and that was Industrial Lancashire.
    Anyone remember the Ham and egg roll we used to get in the compo left over from WW II.
    We had so much compo marked up 43 or 44 said to be from stocks made up for D Day, very good it was in the late 60s early 70s.
    Still got the spare tyre from it.
  10. ugly

    ugly LE Moderator

    Was that like a pastry less version of the pork pie with egg?
    Sounds interesting, tinned I assume?
    man i thought I was a sweat remembering tinned compo with menus E & F.
  11. I seem to recall eggs being rationed long after WW2 along with sugar, sweets, etc. The compo ham and egg roll (just ham and eggs) was indeed canned... sorry tinned, though not good eaten cold right out of the tin was palatable when cooked and served centrally.
    Another compo delicacy from that era, though seldom issued down to platoon level, was the tinned bacon - if one had the time to cook it!

    I also remember powdered egg which was a disaster in the field, fine if the tactical situation permitted or if one had sufficient water or enough time to prepare it though generally disposed of. The Brits had a type of 24 hour rat pack in the early to mid 1960s full of things like dried meat bars that had to be reconstituted with water, great to carry on long patrols as they were light though misery when operating in areas where there was little or no water when they had to be chewed like dried out beef jerky though without the taste. Even with water the only thing that made them remotely edible was a liberal amount of curry powder (which was also contained in the pack).
  12. My great grandmother (a farm labourers wife) kept a handfull of hens at her home in the North of Scotland. Someone from the food rationing and distribution whatever would come round on a daily basis and take the eggs away (she recieved payment for this). She also kept bantam ducks whose eggs were deemed too small to be of interest and she was therefore able to use/barter these herself.